Advisory board sends message to city on ride share companies

Board tells city to enforce vehicle-for-hire laws

By Tim Gerber - Reporter

On the same day a federal judge in Houston said ride sharing companies Lyft and Uber can continue to operate until an injunction hearing is held this summer, the San Antonio Transportation Advisory Board agreed to send a strong message to city council members.

Board members agreed to send a letter to the city stating they believe the ride share services are operating as vehicles for hire and should be required to follow the rules spelled out in Chapter 33 of the city code. That is the section of the code that covers vehicles for hire and includes restrictions on hours worked, establishes a dress code and several fees which so far don't apply to the new companies.

Richard Moreno represents 220 drivers through the Alamo City Drivers Association and each one has to follow those rules.

"All the sudden the city is saying you know what, you guys are going to get a certain law but these other guys can work with no fees, work whatever hours they want, no dress code, no inspections, and that's not right," Moreno said.

Local drivers addressed the board which is made up of people who own or operate local taxi and limo companies. They urged the board to take a stand against the smartphone app-based transportation companies.

While the ride sharing companies claim they are not like other vehicle-for-hire companies in town, local drivers and board members disagree, saying the ride share services are charging fares, stealing rides and profits from drivers who follow the rules.

"The city has a very good structured network of taxi cab companies, a taxi cab industry, a limo industry and we provide pretty good service in this city, said John Bouloubasis, president of Yellow Cab. "There's a set of rules and regulations that are in place and these unlicensed vehicle-for-hire companies as they're referred to, because that's what they are, need to follow the existing rules and regulations."

In addition to the letter, the board also asked for more enforcement after learning only six citations have been issued to drivers working for the ride share companies.

Next the issue will be taken up by the Public Safety Committee on May 7, before it goes to city council for consideration.

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